Let me begin, by saying this is my third attempt to write this sentence, so my focus has started off poorly. However, this serves as a good jumping off point for my points. With all said and done these days, is there any wonder why we can’t seem to stay focused for any longer than it takes to accomplish one task item, and then we begin to wander, either figuratively or a literal walking away from what we’re doing. At once, I begin to imagine all the aspects of society and their benefits and just how this would have been any different if those responsible for their creation were as unfocused as I am. Are we getting worse with our focus, than say someone of the early twentieth century? Has technology created a paradigm of mediocrity, due to a general lack of focus, except with what technological means are placed before us? Perhaps, these are true, but also perhaps like anything we look to the worst representations as a pedagogy regarding our life’s perceptions and trainings. We may tell ourselves, why do I need to try as hard, if my results are bound for failure. We teach ourselves, in a manner of speaking, to only go in the direction of the sure thing. How many times have we heard the phrase, “failure is not an option!”?
Failure is always an option, perhaps not the best option but an option nonetheless. Failure is needed to become better at what we do, and without failure we have no benchmark for success, or the pitfalls which surround us daily. As I’m referring to failure, I think it should be clear, failure is what you think failure should be. For me, failure is my inability to accomplish what I tasked myself to do, or not doing what I know the “right” thing to do is. Nothing more, but with a critical eye, I consider what I’m doing and have done to get better. This applies with my relationships, my job, tasks at hand, and my overall person as it relates to my faith. In fact, my failures as they relate to my faith, are always forefront of my mind, and not as a nature of piety, but as I am a sinner and my failure to recognize this will be my undoing. So, it is front and center of my mind always. Don’t you have anything with which you regret, regarding the way you treated another, or where you could have done more to benefit the situation of another? This is really all I mean. If our focus is on God, and we want to have a relationship which grows closer each day, then our ability to focus on what matters is paramount to our salvation.
In my normal day, when I wake up, I have just enough time to shower, shave and dress for the day’s work. I wake my children up for school, and sometimes I have time for breakfast, while the car warms us, and other days I’m rushed from the second I wake up till I arrive at work. There is very little room for error, and when I have something, unforeseen and time-consuming, I tend to handle this poorly. I become moody and for lack of a better expression, I’m hard to deal with. Though, when removed from the stressful situation I think to myself, I could have woken up earlier, or be willing to accept those things which I have no control over. Almost anything would have been better than the attitude I had when it came to the people of whom I love the most in this world. So, where was my focus? Plainly, it was on me! This is a bitter pill for me to swallow. I ask myself the question, how can you be so selfish?
For the longest time, I was focused on myself and what I wanted, but gave myself and the people around me the general delusion, I was just working on myself and I was sorry I didn’t give them more of my attention. From a duplicity standpoint, they saw right through me, and I’ve permanently lost relationships because of my behavior. This failure of mine, is painful but telling of a better future where if I can put my selfishness to the side and focus on God, and becoming a reflection of his light for others I have a real chance of allowing another to enrich my life for the better. Charity should be my number one focus, in everything I attempt to do. Take for instance, when dealing with my kids, if I am in any way attempting to be charitable, I will listen and be patient with them. However, I give them goals they can accomplish, but goals, much like myself, intended to challenge them. No one ever said, “I really respect you, because you made things so easy, I never had to try”, at very best people appreciate not working hard, but can’t truly respect this behavior either.
My daily focus, how do I accomplish this, and how can I be better? Matthew Kelly, of Dynamic Catholic, always asks his readers, “are you being the best version of yourself?”. This is such a wonderful point of view to have, although it appears to be a simple platitude at first, it truly isn’t. Within a couple of minutes of asking yourself this question, I think you will realize the answer is, “no”. Not that you won’t be the best version of yourself as you sit and read this right now, but as you attain a new understanding, much like a corridor of doors, you open a new door to a new world. A world where we are woefully deficient in our understandings and general pursuits.
There are some people who choose, as their focus, to open those doors which open to rooms of varying width and sizes, but rooms which can be measured. When we focus on God, we open the door to worlds of understanding, which can neither be measured or fully comprehended with one look. This is what my focus on God offers me, a world of love, and one which I am ever learning. I’m always learning to be more compassionate, more understanding, and one which helps me gain the insight needed to move up the proverbial mountain we must all climb in this life. I believe, since I’ve opened the door to this world, so-to-speak, I’ve found within myself, by the grace of God, a new desire for all. I’ve found a certainty of appreciation as it pertains to my surroundings. My daily focus, should be, and isn’t always because I allow life to step in the way from time-to-time, those people and places which can either influence me or I can influence them. As a father, my focus is my kids and what is best for them. I see some fathers who are truly friends to their kids, and on some level, I find this inviable, but on a focus of family, I find this disconcerting. Now, I don’t ever want to give a sense of judgement over anyone. I’m no better than anybody, but I’m trying and where I see potential pitfalls, I do my best to avoid whenever possible. In the case of being a father, and my focus to do better has shown me, my kids don’t need a friend, they have plenty of those. No, instead, what they need is someone to lead them, and in vein of truth encompassing all children, all kids need parents to lead them in to right choices. Without our moral teachings, and without our general actions as they pertain to our kids and life, kids are forever left to wander.
Now, I purposely make the point regarding our kids today, a generation which needs our focus and discipline more than anything I can think of. Of course, they are our future, but they also deserve a future and one which they can take a hold of, regarding actions and perceptions. Right choices are far more important than successful outcomes (though I will take successful outcomes associated with right choices any day), and teaching our kids the difference should be our legacy. My wife and I sound like broken records to our kids, regarding what they choose to tell us as things happen in their life. Though, I want them to be self-reliant, at least to the point where they can enter their thought stream and truly look back at their parent’s teachings to help them answer difficult questions.
As my focus pertains to my wife, my friend, someone whom I love more than myself. This is just it. In less than twenty words, I listed my general goal and focus for the woman who shares my covenant with God. She is my everything, and we determined over two decades ago, we would be devoted to loving one another, and trying (although, I’m a boob and need her to show me better ways of doing things) to create a life of focus on God, our kids, and our now. This is where I think we got things wrong in the past. We always focused on our future together, rather than the here and now. We talked about building the house of our dreams, while we lived in a shack, with no other means of fixing our personal problems at the time, we were willing to delude ourselves into thinking it was our age and lack of knowhow. In our case, we’ve overcome many things, much like a typical couple, and we are the better for it, but without God’s blessings on us, we would never have had the strength to tackle those issues which were the hardest. God, doesn’t fix our problems for us, God gives us the strength and courage to stand in opposition to our problems, and the recognition to focus on what’s important. Our only problem as two married people, young and inexperienced, was we thought we could do it alone. We were wrong, and so is anyone who carries the same referential point of view. We need parents who are married and stay married, because they worked their problems out, as a measure of an example in our own lives. How hard is the focus for a new generation of young people, choosing to get married, when they see over sixty percent of the people around them divorced, or divorced at least once? Where does this leave them when hard times hit, because they will hit, and will be woefully unpleasant? This unpleasantness mixed with poorly realized goals, and nothing as a point of reference, spells disaster. Mixed with an entire generation dealing with this model, there are rough times ahead. I often tell people, if you want a better society you must do four things. First, believe in God, there is too much evidence for us to explore which otherwise presumes there isn’t a God. Two, family is second only to God, we are our family and our family looks to us for guidance. We are the heads of our families, so act like it and move forward. Third, education, how can we ever hope to provide for our families or help prepare them without a proper education. Either in college or in a trade, our families must be educated to work, and educated in life to function properly and be the best they can be. Fourth, community, we all live in communities. Within these community’s we possess our material items for one, but more importantly we keep our precious friends and family close. When we allow people to infringe upon our community (i.e. gangs, drugs, anything of general detriment), we indicate two things, we want someone to answer our problems and we are unwilling to sacrifice for the betterment of anyone. If you live in a community, it requires your sacrifice of either time and effort, or of will. This is the foundation for setting up a proper generation, and without this, we will continue to spiral downward into a secular hell which provides nothing past your person wants and needs till those no longer satisfy you.
When we look at our daily focus, are we applying a litmus test, and if so, does this test have an objective point of view? I am sure most everyone today, has a bevy of items marketed to us which allow us an ability to do anything we want. There are painting classes with friends, karaoke, dog parks, anything virtually anywhere on our phone, streaming entertainment choices, and shopping. When was the last time, you heard anyone say, “hey let’s do something meaningful with our lives and put our focus on prayer or helping others!”. When were you last challenged to do anything whereby you knew the fruition of your focus would not be realized for years or perhaps ever? I would venture a guess, a very long time ago, when you were a child and were made to focus on what your parents wanted, or absolutely nothing in the recent past. It’s funny how we as adults’ rebel against something our parents made us do, more over because to the way they made us do it, and less about the general enrichment it provides for our lives.
Overall, I am closer to where I want to be than when I started, but I am nowhere close when I picture myself accomplishing my goals. We have big issues in our world, which require all of our attention to fix, and I don’t mean politicians who say things which cause the jaw to drop, or lie to our face and we act incredulous, even though we knew they were a liar the whole time. We carry with us a power to set and change anything we desire. The hardest part of doing this is, we may never see it pass, but deep down in those quite places of your heart, where only God speaks to you, you know this to be the truth. You know by your unselfish actions to raise children, be a good spouse, a devoted follower, and someone people can look towards to lead them, this is the path to walk. It’s very hard, and you will fall constantly at first, but as time moves forward, you’ll see it isn’t any less difficult, but you have set your will to focus on its complexity and your goal is to achieve the glory which will come. May God bless you and your family!!!
God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!!!